As I said in Part One, Thomas Sowell outlined the two visions of human nature: constrained and unconstrained.
People with the constrained vision of human nature believe that this nature is fixed, flawed and that all humans act with self-interest in mind. And because of innate self-interest, we should be free to pursue it, but conversely, because of innate fallibility, there should be some constraints on human behavior which keep us from encroaching on the self-interest of others.
Example: those of us who subscribe to God’s newsletter acknowledge that, since the Fall in the Garden of Eden—man in naturally sinful (flawed)—and, following from there, it is the ultimate in self-interest to accept Jesus the Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. We are interested in not going to Hell for our sins and, therefore, we try to do what God wants us to do and one of those is to love one’s neighbor as self: a constraint on human behavior which keep us from encroaching on the self-interest of others.
It isn’t surprising, therefore, that people who hold the unconstrained vision of human nature are often atheists—though, allowing for incomplete thinking on personal principles, not always. (Belief in a Higher Power than humanity is, by nature, a constrained vision of human nature.) Under this philosophy man is his own agent and possesses all of the tools to become perfect and to perfect his species.
And the key feature to this vision is that as long at the goal is deemed virtuous, there is no moral constraint–or any other kind–on the means of attaining a particular goal. Does the phrase by any means necessary ring a bell?
Example: the notion that “all men are created equal” often falls by the wayside for those with this view. To them, there are some set of human beings which are inherently better than others—physically, mentally, emotionally, morally and spiritually–and those “others” are a drain on those who are “better.” This is the part of humankind which requires perfecting.
Obviously, racial supremacist ideology falls in this category and nearly every systematic mass killing conducted by a governmental entity ever recorded has been presented as an attempt to improve upon the peopling of a given society—especially those which have occurred in the last century or so.
Let’s go with abortion. Some of the most head-turning justifications for abortion which I’ve heard are in regard to the disproportionately high rate of abortion among black women. Many pro-choice/pro-abortion advocate even acknowledge that abortion is the killing of human beings, but will say “it’s better than being born poor” or “it’s better than being born in a racist, sexist society,” or something similar.
The foundation of that thinking is that blacks are (allegedly) unable to escape penury because of our genetic make-up and, therefore, we will always be discriminated against because of our race and/or sex. We are inferior—implies the person with the unconstrained vision—so it’s better to cull succeeding generations and to do it as often as possible. It’s all for the improvement of humankind.
More in Tuesday’s post.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.
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